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OLPC Planning US Launch

January 16th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The BBC reports on the OLPC’s plan to launch in the USA.

“The OLPC has set up a US office and has begun talking to state governments about ways to get the laptop into the hands of the poorest American children.

“The organisation said it would formally launch its XO programme in America later in 2008.”

I can’t wait to see it happen! There are good reasons to offer XOs in the US. It will benefit the students who receive them, the schools that will be able to supply computers to more students, and the OLPC itself, as it increases overall production volumes, and reduces costs. Finally, it will result in a larger ecosystem that will draw in more users and developers to further improve the platform. This is a wise move, and I wish the project much success.

“Hard cash, cold logic: Linux”

January 15th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

LinuxWorld Australia writes, “Hard cash, cold logic: Linux,” covering Elcot (Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu)’s migration of 30,000 desktops to SUSE Linux.

First, the managing director of Elcot installed Linux on a new laptop for testing purposes. Then, “within weeks, the Rs 750-crore Elcot was undergoing a enterprise-wide migration to Suse Linux. A year later, Umashankar and his team had moved 30,000 computers and 1,880 severs belonging to some of the state’s schools to Linux — creating possibly the largest Linux rollout in India.”

While Elcot’s 30,000 computers represent a huge migration, it is only a fraction of the state government’s total complement of desktop computers. Following Elcot’s success, the rest of the government is observing and possibly planning to migrate to Linux as well.

“Umashankar expects the entire operations of the government to gradually switch over to Linux/ over the next 12 or 18 months. “Give it two or three virus attacks and you’ll see a faster migration,” he says tongue-in-cheek.”

Wikipedia to Support ODF

January 14th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization responsible for the Wikipedia, has announced plans to support ODF export from the MediaWiki wiki engine.

From the press release:

“This technology is of key strategic importance to the cause of free education world-wide,” said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “It will make it possible to use and remix wiki content for a variety of purposes, both in the developing and the developed world, in areas with connectivity and without.”

In this multi-stage project, the last will bring support for ODF.

“The third stage, planned for mid-2008, will be the addition of the OpenDocument format for word processors to the list of export formats. “Imagine that you want to use a set of wiki articles in the classroom. By supporting the OpenDocument format, we will make it easy for educators to customize and remix content before printing and distributing it from any desktop computer,” Sue Gardner explained. This work is funded through a US$40,000 grant by the Open Society Institute.

“The technology developed through this cooperation will be available under an open source license, free for anyone to use for any purpose. It ties into the MediaWiki platform, the open source technology that runs Wikipedia. As a result, thousands of wiki platforms around the world will have the option of providing the same services to their users.”

Pixel Qi Spins Off from OLPC

January 11th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Mary Lou Jepsen, the founding CTO of OLPC, recently left the project to help commercialize some of its innovative hardware in a new company she founded, Pixel Qi. One of its goals is to produce a laptop for $50 to $75!

Groklaw runs an interview with Jepsen about her plans.

Jepsen explains her plan: “I’m starting a company called Pixel Qi. Pixel Qi is currently pursuing the $75 laptop, while also aiming to bring sunlight readable, low-cost and low-power screens into mainstream laptops, cellphones and digital cameras. Spinning out from OLPC enables the development of a new machine, beyond the XO, while leveraging a larger market for new technologies, beyond just OLPC: prices for next-generation hardware can be brought down by allowing multiple uses of the key technology advances. Pixel Qi will give OLPC products at cost, while also selling the sub-systems and devices at a profit for commercial use.”

A great article, a fascinating person, and a world-changing idea!

Everex’s CloudBook Announced

January 10th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Another low-cost, open source based mini-laptop has arrived: the Everex CloudBook. Featuring the gOS, just like its desktop sibling gPC, the CloudBook is a tiny but very functional looking $399 laptop.

OpenDocument Format Making “Amazing Progress”

January 9th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Computerworld UK reports “OpenDocument Format making ‘amazing progress’ claim supporters.”

“Twelve countries and six regional governments have adopted “pro-ODF policies,” according to the group, composed of companies and organisations that advocate for the format.

“The latest countries are the Netherlands and South Africa, which require government agencies to use the format. Also, more than 40 applications now support ODF and the Alliance’s membership ranks are set to rise above 500, according to the report.”

ODF supporters can be found everywhere online and around the world as additional governments and applications adopt the format. The news of its continued success will bring even more supporters as it strengthens the resolve of its longtime proponents.

“Another ODF advocate, Andy Updegrove, also expressed pleasure over ODF’s adoption to date and optimism about its future. “The tipping point has been passed. I don’t think it will lead to a deluge, but progress will continue,” said Updegrove, an attorney with Gesmer Updegrove LLP in Boston.”

Shuttle’s New <$200 Linux PC

January 8th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Rumor has it Shuttle is entering the market for inexpensive Linux-based computers.

The Inquirer writes, “When you don’t have to pay the MS monopoly tax, you save a huge chunk of money from your Bill of Materials (BoM). When you don’t have to support MeII [Vista, I guess?], you can provide the same user experience with a lot lower hardware spec. That saves more money.”

Looking further, I have not yet found any definitive announcements. But other blogs are picking up the scent and looking for answers:

“Unfortunately, no further information is currently available on Shuttle’s new system. It’s unclear what form factor the system will be, what the specs will be or what version of Linux it will be running.”

I think this, along with the gPC, Asus’ Eee PC, Nokia 810, the OLPC XO, and other similar products are the beginning of a seismic shift. The low-cost end of the market will abandon Windows in favor of Linux over the next year or two. And that will eventually grow to become the bulk of the market: this is going to be fascinating to watch!

Ulteo Brings OpenOffice to any Web Browser

January 7th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Ulteo, a new startup founded by Gaël Duval, has launched a web-based version of that can be accessed from any web browser.

In addition to OOo’s huge featureset, this version adds realtime collaboration, Google Docs-style:

“As well as offering instant ‘no-install’ access, Ulteo’s service also provides users with instant collaboration capabilities. A user working with on the Ulteo server can invite other people to work with him or her on a shared document in real time.”

However, its base featureset is larger, and hence the press release can realistically make the following claim: “With Ulteo, becomes the de facto best online productivity suite. It is standards based, mature, with lots of features.”

OpenOffice Adoptions in Israel and Vietnam

January 5th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Erwin Tenhumberg points out two articles on new OOo adoptions in Israel and Vietnam. reports on an agreement between Sun and the Israeli education system to supply and Linux to schools. This marks a major change in Israel, which has been a staunch user of almost exclusively Microsoft software to date:

“According to a computer teacher in a Tel Aviv high school, “even though the software world offers a multitude of alternatives, to date we have used Microsoft products almost exclusively. That is very frustrating, not least because in some cases the open source developments are better than those of the closed source.”

Vietnam is moving aggressively to migrate to OpenOffice for its government employees, and also promote it in the private sector:

“The majority of computers made in Vietnam have now started to come put with the Linux operating system to pave the way for spreading the usage of open source software in the country,” says Pham Thien Nghe, chairman of the Vietnam Computer Producers Club and director of Khai Tri Company.

“Khai Tri will produce 15,000 PCs this year, and up to 10,000 of which are installed with Linux to supply State agencies and education institutions. The remainder will be supplied to small- and medium-sized enterprises, and within this smaller segment, users will decide which operating system to be installed.”

FOSS Successes in India and the Philippines

January 3rd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Economic Times of India reports “Efforts to promote open source software gather momentum,” as more companies, universities and governments adopt open source software including Linux,, and other programs:

“India’s computing space is witnessing a shift towards free software as more and more people are drifting away from proprietary products due to their exorbitant prices, security issues and restrictions on usage, according to experts.”

Meanwhile, The Open Press (a press release distributor) announces another major Philippine company has adopted FOSS in “Philippine Construction Company Shifts to Linux for Cost-Effective Infrastructure.”

“EEI Corporation, one of the Philippines’ leading construction companies, has opted to shift to Linux for their operating system (OS), joining several other industry giants in the country who have already turned to open source.

“Due to increasing costs of licensing, the company started considering open source applications in order to minimize expenses.

“Other concerns, such as virus infection and the increasing cost of hardware also became factors as to why we decided to use Linux,” said Mr. Andy S. Sarmiento, assistant vice president for the MIS department.

“EEI Corporation is only one of several industry giants in the Philippines which are already using Linux and open source software. Other firms include Jollibee Foods Corporation, Mercury Drug Corporation, International Family Foods Services (Shakey’s) and Nippon Paint Philippines Inc. Several schools, notably the University of the Philippines, are also making use of open source in place of proprietary systems.”